Q. Our company has always presented costs to clients in both written and numerical form. For example, “The cost for our services is two thousand one hundred fifty dollars ($2,150).” One client has pointed out that the number in parentheses is negative and therefore we owe him money. How can we present numbers to clients in both written and numerical form without using the parentheses, which may indicate a negative number?
Q. Hi—My Manual of Style is buried in a box at home after a move, and we’re having a debate at work. When should numbers be spelled out, and when should they be written in numerals?
Q. When hours and minutes are mixed in a sentence that is describing a duration, are all numerals used? For instance, is it “The spacewalk lasted 7 hours and 54 minutes” or “The spacewalk lasted seven hours and 54 minutes”?
Q. In a work of fiction, should all numbers be spelled out in dialogue?
Q. I’m editing the autobiography of a delightful, elderly R&B songwriter who writes of his song reaching “#3” on the Billboard chart, but later writes of having a “top ten” hit. Are there special rules for documenting music charting, or should we spell out all numerical positions to be consistent with CMOS? In some paragraphs, he lists the many chart positions reached by his songs, so spelling out makes the section difficult to read. I don’t want to hurt his feelings by telling him that we should just summarize his chart-topping accomplishments or put them in an appendix. Egad—am I too tenderhearted to be an editor?
Q. Section 9.18 (16th ed.) says always use numerals for percentages. Fine. But I’m editing a book of fiction. One paragraph of narration uses a percentage, and then the next paragraph uses a percentage in dialogue. What to do? Here’s an example: Steven was told that 78 percent of the neighborhood had been spared. “Yeah, but what are we to do about the remaining twenty-two percent?” he groaned.
Q. How does a person write out ninety-two thousand, fifty-five dollars in numeral form? I should know this, but I’m stumped.
Q. I’m writing dialogue with blood pressure values. I’m OK with my doc saying, “Your last reading was one twenty-nine.” But what do I do with a reading of 101? “One zero one” sounds like Mr. Spock. “One oh one” is the way people speak, but “oh” may be confused with the exclamation. “One hundred and one” sounds like a temperature, not a blood pressure. Plus, this form would require me to use “one hundred and twenty-nine,” etc., for consistency. “One hundred one” is probably correct, but sounds awkward, and might be confused with repetition: “That’s one hundred—one.” Should I just give up and use numerals?
Q. This has to do with page ranges for a bibliography, as described in CMOS. It is clear that 125–29 is correct and 125–129 is not. However, it is not clear what to do with a range like 145–155. Should it be 145–55 or 145–155? The trouble comes from the part of the explanation that reads “use two or more digits as needed” and the lack of examples to address this particular situation. I would think 145–55 is sufficient, but then, I don’t trust my own intuition because 125–9 seems sufficient to me, too. And that is wrong. Please help!
Q. I have been under the impression that extensions on a date (st, nd , rd, etc.) are proper when used simply with a month (January 15th) but are not used in connection with a year (January 15, 2009). Please advise if this is correct or provide instruction to the contrary.